Friday, October 28, 2011

Drying herbs: two techniques

Sage, rosemary and thyme, dried in a food dehydrator
It's comin' for us.

Winter, that is. In fact, parts of our lovely state of Vermont already have some snow.

This means that it's time to call the garden done and get it prepped for a long winter's nap.

I don't have much left in garden, veg-wise, but I do have a crapload of herbs, so this week I harvested what was left and set about drying them for use over the cold winter months.

I have dried herbs using two different techniques, one fast and one slow, so I'm going to share both of them with you. Both are simple and will leave you with dried herbs that are much more flavorful than any you can buy.

Method 1: Dehydrator Drying

This is the fast method, but it does require that you own a food dehydrator. (If you don't own one yet, I'd strongly urge you to petition Santa for one this year.)

1. Rinse herbs in cool water; spread on paper or cloth towels to dry overnight.

2. Remove leaves from woody stems, where possible (e.g., sage and rosemary; leave thyme on the stem or you will drive yourself insane).

3. Lay herbs on drying trays, leaving some room for air circulation.

4. Dry in the dehydrator, set to 95 degrees F, for at least 4-5 hours or until fully dried. The length of time will depend on the type and size of the leaves (e.g., sage leaves take much longer than thyme sprigs).

5. Store in an airtight container, away from sunlight and heat. (Note: photo at top of page shows herbs dried using this method).
That's it for the short way. Now for the long way...

Method 2: Air Drying

No special equipment required here, just some rubber bands, a pair of wire cutters or metal snips and a wire hanger.

1. Rinse herbs in cool water, spread on paper or cloth towels to dry.

2. Gather like herbs into small bundles. Secure the bundle at the stem end with a rubber band (in a pinch, I've used clean hair elastics); set aside.

3. Using wire cutters, snip the long horizontal piece of a wire hanger in half in the middle.

4. Thread one or two herb bundles onto each side of the hanger by sliding the cut end through the stems just underneath the rubber band.

5. Twist the two cut ends of the hanger together to prevent the bundles from sliding off.

6. Hang in a cool, dark and dry place for at least 1-2 months or until fully dried.
Oregano, air-dried for 3 months (but not in front of this window!!)

7. Remove leaves from stems if desired and store herbs in an airtight container, away from sunlight and heat.

Either method will yield lovely aromatic herbs that you can use in recipes, potpourri, sachets, etc.


  1. To air dry, I put the herbs (loose, not tied) in a paper grocery bag to keep any dust or critters out, and hang the bag. I shake the bag every so often to redistribute the herbs. Usually takes a couple of weeks in my desert clime to dry thoroughly

  2. Another great method! Thanks for sharing yours.